Rock Musician Rumors That Aren’t Actually True

March 1, 2021 · CLASSMATES FUN

There are myths about rock musicians that have spread as true stories through the ages, even though they’re totally unbelievable. If they seem too weird to be true, chances are they are.

However, some crazy stories actually did happen. Ozzy Osbourne really did bite a head off of a bat, although he didn’t mean to (he thought it was rubber), the FBI was in fact targeting John Lennon, surveilling him around the clock, and Keith Richards did snort his dad’s ashes. Others, though, are just false.

Here are some rock musician myths that somehow have been passed down as true over the years but definitely aren’t.

Paul McCartney died in a car crash

The myth goes that sometime in 1966, at the height of the Beatles’ fame, Paul McCartney was in a roadside accident and died, so the remaining members hired a look-alike replacement to fill his spot. Fans thought they heard subliminal messages in their lyrics and found clues on their album covers. One such rumor is that you can hear the line “turn me on, dead man” if you play the song Revolution 9 backwards.

Robert Johnson made a deal with the devil

Robert Johnson was a poor guitarist who disappeared for a few months, and, when he returned, came back with all new guitar skills. Some say he went to the crossroads, which is supposedly at Highway 61 and Highway 49 in Mississippi, to meet the devil. Johnson died under mysterious circumstances in 1938. His death wasn’t initially reported, but when his death certificate was finally found, it showed he died in 1938 with no cause of death listed. Some say he may have been poisoned or could have died from syphilis or Marfan syndrome. He was only 27.

Led Zeppelin also sold their souls to the devil

Jimmy Page was a fan of the occultist Aleister Crowley (he even bought his house in 1970), which is perhaps why rumors spread that Led Zeppelin, following in Robert Johnson’s footsteps, went down to the crossroads to make a deal with the devil. Some say if you play Stairway to Heaven backwards, you can hear a note to Satan.

Elvis Presley is alive

Elvis Presley died in 1977, but he was so beloved that many fans still refuse to believe it. The rumor stemmed from somebody witnessing his look-alike at the Memphis Airport the same day he died, and the fact that his middle name was misspelled on his tombstone. The myth continued on through the 1980s, with Elvis sightings all throughout the decade.

Charles Mansion auditioned for the Monkees

Surprisingly, Charles Manson was at one point friends with Dennis Wilson from the Beach Boys and the Byrds’ producer Terry Melcher, so he was involved in the music scene of the 1960s, but he didn’t audition for the Monkees. He was briefly incarcerated from 1965 to 1967, and the Monkees show was cast in 1967, during that period.

Harry Nilsson had a cursed apartment

Although two people died in Harry Nilsson’s apartment, it’s hard to say if the place was actually cursed. Nilsson split his time between the U.K. and the U.S.A., so he let his friends stay in his London flat when he wasn’t in town. Mama Cass from the Mamas and the Papas passed away from a heart attack in 1974 while staying at the apartment (the rumor that she died choking on a ham sandwich isn’t true), and the Who drummer Keith Moon died there in 1978 of an accidental drug overdose. Nilsson never stepped foot in the apartment again, and sold it to Pete Townshend, also from the Who, in 1980.

White BIC Lighters are bad luck

In 2011, a pro-marijuana website claimed that Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and Kurt Cobain all died with white BIC lighters in their pockets. However, BIC didn’t start selling disposable lighters until after Joplin, Hendrix, and Morrison had already died, and although lighters were found near Cobain’s body, they weren’t in his pocket and weren’t white.

Alice Cooper bit off the head of a chicken and drank its blood

This rumor definitely stretches the truth. At an Alice Cooper concert in 1969, a live chicken somehow found its way on stage. Cooper threw it into the audience, thinking it could fly, and his fans ended up ripping it to pieces. Singer Frank Zappa asked Cooper if he really did drink chicken blood, and when Cooper said no, Zappa told him not to deny the story because it was good publicity.

Roy Orbison was blind

Roy Orbison always wore dark shades, which is how the myth started that he was blind. He wore thick glasses to correct his vision, and when he accidentally left his glasses behind before a show, he wore his prescription sunglasses on the stage instead. The show was heavily publicized because he happened to be opening for The Beatles, so he continued to wear the glasses, making it part of his persona as the “singer with dark glasses.”

A pizza delivery man helped write Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s song Taking Care of Business

The original story goes that the band was struggling to write their well-known song in the studio because they felt like something was missing. A guy who was delivering pizza showed up and mentioned to the band that the song needed a piano part. Another version of the myth says that the band had him join in on the piano, but he disappeared before they could pay him for his help. In reality, a professional piano player named Norman Durkee happened to be in the same studio, so BTO’s engineer asked him to play piano on the song.

Phil Collins wrote In the Air Tonight after witnessing a man watching somebody drown

Although it’s a totally far-fetched story, somehow it’s made the rounds anyway. Collins supposedly was driving when he witnessed a man drowning and another man watching him without helping. Collins then invited him to his concert and publicly shamed him for not saving the man. The legend has other versions too – one is that Collins casually witnessed a sexual assault, and another is that he saw a man trying to prevent the drowning but couldn’t. Obviously, none of these stories are true. How would Collins have been able to track the man down and invite him to his concert if he was just driving by?